On Sunday, we gave you a look at the Eastern Division teams in the SEC, how they got where they are and why they are where they are and where they might be going.
Boy, that sounded like a Ron Zook news conference.
Today, we are moving to the West, the power half of this conference, right? Well, the truth is that the East has caught up over the last two years, actually winning 16 games between the two divisions out of 28.
But that does not include the title game, where the East is 0-2.
The West is considered to be the stronger division because it is stronger at the top. The East has only one win in that SEC Championship Game since 2008.
So here we go with the look at the other division and, again, I hope none of the fans take it personally when I point out the flaws of a program. Like that’s going to happen.
Where you are: You are the program everyone wants to be. You are consistently a national championship contender even if the dynasty has taken a couple of hits the last two seasons. Still, the whole 12 losses in nine seasons thing is ridiculous. The rest of the conference wants to know if it can carry your groceries home.
How you got here: Two words — Drew Brees. If Nick Saban doesn’t pass on him when he was the coach of the Miami Dolphins, who knows when he becomes the Alabama coach or if he ever does? A lot of coaches win at Bama, but there are no guarantees (ask Mike Shula). Everything changed when Saban walked through that door.
Where you are: You tell me. First of all, Aubie is to blame for this whole UCF annoyance, because it started when you lost that bowl game at the end of the 2017 season. And somehow you have turned four-loss and five-loss seasons into the norm. Gus Malzahn’s winning percentage is .667, so he wins two out of every three. Is that good? Is that acceptable?
How you got here: Great make-up sex. Every time you think you want to break up with your coach, he does something that makes you want to get back together, like beating Alabama last season by scoring 48 on the Tide. You were this close to winning a national title in 2013, but that seems like decades ago.
Where you are: You’re, like, in Nowheres-ville, man. In the last two seasons, you have won eight games. During that stretch, you have one SEC victory. Even Vanderbilt is laughing at you. This was a program that made an easy transition to the SEC in 1992, reaching three SEC title games. Now? Blech.
How you got here: Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle accident. The Razorbacks had a head coach who was an arrogant jerk, but he was winning games. In his last season (2011), Arkansas finished ranked fifth in the country. Then, he got caught in an embarrassing scandal and was let go. Arkansas has had five losing seasons since then and has not finished the season ranked once.
Where you are: On top of the world. You know you probably won’t be able to sustain it, but while you take a break to buy another “Burreaux” jersey, you’re never going to let one of the greatest seasons ever go without a fight. It made up for all of those LSU teams that underachieved and that, my friends, is a long list.
How you got here: For one thing, coaches like Jimbo Fisher said no. And you were willing to take a chance on Ed Orgeron no matter how many people told you that you were crazier than a jambalaya margarita. And you fired a guy with a 114-34 record. Somehow, it all worked out. Eventually.
Where you are: Confused. You fired a guy who didn’t mix well with the culture and hired a guy with no culture. Mike Leach may eventually turn out to be a great get, but it’s more and more difficult for Miss. State to compete in the West. Here’s a stat for you — the Cowbells all-time record against Alabama, LSU and Auburn is 80-221.
How you got here: Obviously, Dan Mullen left. Actually, the worst thing that happened was that Scott Stricklin came to Florida. Mullen did a job there that will be difficult to repeat in this new world SEC. And his ability to develop players is something that will be missed for a long time.
Where you are: You fired your last coach — a lifelong Rebel — because one of his players pretended to be a dog relieving himself in the end zone. And he went 4-8. But you may actually be in a good place with the hiring of Lane Kiffin. The problem is that we have no idea whether he can win big at the Power Five Level (career 21-16 in conference games).
How you got here: Well, Ole Miss was on fire until Hugh Freeze used his burner phone to call an escort service. And with the NCAA already taking up most of the hotel space in Oxford, that was the last draw. The Rebels won a Sugar Bowl just five seasons ago so we know it’s possible. But is it possible to do it within the rules?
Where you are: You have a coach who can light his cigars with $100 bills, tremendous facilities and a rabid fan base. What you do not have is a season with fewer than four losses since 2012. Jimbo Fisher, so far, hasn’t been able to take the Aggies to that next level and we all know what the expectations are for him and the program.
How you got here: Coach Kevin Sumlin wasn’t able to build on Johnny Football. That 2012 year was special with Johnny Manziel being the first redshirt freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. But it has never been like that again. Instead, the Aggies got fed up with being average and went after Fisher with Breaking Bad type money. You know, the barrels? You need to binge watch it.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.